NEW YORK CITY – A great deal can change between Saturday night and the Sunday afternoon commencement of the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils.
The Bruins currently won’t start picking players until selection No. 60 overall in the second round after losing their first round pick in the trade deadline deal with the Dallas Stars that sent Jaromir Jagr to Boston. The initial second round pick became a first rounder when the Bruins accomplished the condition of making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Peter Chiarelli confirmed what hockey sources have been indicating to CSNNE.com for the last couple of days, and that’s a desire for the Bruins to get back into the first round of a talented 2013 draft class. One source went further with the Bruins hoping to get a top 10 draft pick, and that’s where some of the trade chatter has cropped up with 21-year-old Bruins winger Tyler Seguin. Chiarelli believes there are at least five players in this season’s draft that could play in the NHL next season, and perhaps the Bruins are looking to replace a player in Seguin (cap hit of $5.75 million) with an equally talented rookie on an entry level contract.
“I think any GM entering the draft without a first round pick would try to do that, so out of the ordinary course of events I would,” Chiarelli said. “We had to let Andy [Ference] go and we probably have to do something else to just to get cap compliant. You have assets and you have some activity, so hopefully we can get something done.
“What I see is that there is going to be a lot of players available. They may not all be available now, but they will be made available with the cap going down. So you may have trouble with demand and supply, but there will be players that will play for less. So if we have to mix-and-match then we’ll still have a strong, contending team, and plenty of players that would like to play for us. I don’t think we’ll get to that point, but we’re ready in case we have to.”
It makes sense of plenty of levels with the salary cap set to go down to $64.3 million in 2013-14, and with the Bruin still looking to fill several holes along with re-signing Tuukka Rask and extending Patrice Bergeron. It makes sense if the Bruins are also attempting to move Rich Peverley as part of efforts to pare down their payroll and salary cap nut.
It also makes sense because there are talented players like Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov at the top of the draft class this season, and the Bruins scouting reports indicate all of them could play in the NHL as soon as next year.
The Bruins came to those conclusions after holding their amateur scouting meetings at the Spaulding Rehab Center where assistant director of amateur scouting Scott Fitzgerald was recuperating from injuries suffered in a serious car accident. Fitzgerald has since gone home from the rehab center while making progress with his injuries, but he wasn’t able to make it for Sunday’s war room table at the Prudential Center.
Even still Fitz’s scouting reports will help the Bruins as they’ll likely employ a “best player available” draft strategy for a deep B’s organization without a lot of positional weaknesses.
“We’re finding our list a little bit because in the last two weeks guys might have had some final thoughts, we’ll interview some players and then I’ll hit the phones,” Chiarelli said on his process at the start of Saturday’s work day. “[Best available player] is always the overriding thought and objective. When you get into the nitty gritty of who is at 10 or 11, and why…then you need to look into need a little bit more. But the overriding tiebreaker and the overriding mentality is ‘best player available.’
“[The draft class] is pretty good. It’s pretty good. This is the year where I’ve seen more players because there was a half-season. There seems to be five or six players where if need be, they could play in the NHL next year. That is more than usual.”
If the Bruins stay at the 60th pick then familiar names like Kitchener winger Justin [Son of NFL linebacker Carlton] Bailey, Belleville Bulls defenseman Jordan Subban and former Malden Catholic stud Ryan Fitzgerald become names potentially be up near the top of Boston’s draft board should they still be available. Fitzgerald is the son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, and the nephew of the aforementioned B’s scouting guru Scott Fitzgerald.
But this is all subject to change depending on the wheeling and dealing nature of the Bruins during this draft weekend, and how high the Bruins might be able to scratch into the first round. It should be keep Bruins fans attached to the television wondering exactly what they’ll do in this one-day draft, and it’s clearly keeping the players on pins and needles as they wait to learn their official fate after the trade rumors began swirling around the team.